Inquiry into Mental Health

The Productivity Commission Draft Report from its inquiry into Mental Health highlights the critical importance of housing.

The Commission identifies that suitable housing - that is housing that is secure, affordable, of reasonable quality and of enduring tenure is a particularly important factor in preventing mental ill-health and a first step in promoting long-term recovery for people experiencing mental illness. It endorses a Housing First approach - rapid access to long-term housing and mental health supports that is not conditional on participants becoming housing ready or engaging with support services.

The Commission identifies that where housing and accommodation has been provided there have been significant associated reductions in use of health, justice and community services.

Immediate actions recommended by the Commission include governments to commit to no discharges from care into homelessness, additional supported housing places for people needing care on a regular basis and work towards meeting the gap in long term housing for people with mental illness who are persistently homelessness. It also identifies the need for mental health training and expanded tenancy support services for frontline housing tenancy support workers.

Shelter WA urges State and Federal Government to act now. For years reports commissioned by State and Federal Governments have identified that having a home and supports are fundamental to supporting better mental health outcomes for people. Also this approach is more cost effective.

Governments have dropped the ball on social housing investment. Waiting lists remain persistently high, including for people seeking priority housing, and the private rental market remains unaffordable to people on low incomes. It is unacceptable that people with mental health issues are evicted by governments into homelessness. Significant new investment is needed into social housing and support services so people can get well.

Shelter WA looks forward to imminent release of the Mental Health Commission’s strategy to provide safe and stable accommodation and support to people experiencing mental health, alcohol and other drug issues. We hope this report will not be yet another document that sits on the shelf, but that it provides a roadmap for the right investment and policy settings to deliver the housing and services required by people who experience mental health issues.

Read the Productivity Commission Report here.

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